Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Don’t Call It The Short Hills Mall


Anything in a frame is art: this is the loophole Mickey took advantage of this weekend in Short Hills, NJ, at the Wentworth Gallery in The Mall at Short Hills. There was an exhibition/sale/lecture of Mickey’s art, and if it did not turn into a fancy drum circle, then maybe we don’t know Mickey very well at all.

As a wee TotD, there were two important malls: the Livingston Mall, and The Mall at Short Hills. The Livingston Mall was comfortable and straight-forward and solidly middle-class. It was (still is) shaped like this: ‡. Up and back loop around the first floor, escalator, second floor, done. The anchors on each end were Sears and Macy’s, nothing fancy, and there were three record shops and a bookstore and a Nathan’s Hot Dogs. When I was real little, there was the Superhero Shop, a closet-sized comic store with a mural of the Hulk and Spider-Man painted on the outside glass.

In the winter when the snow came, the plows would make piles twenty feet high that turned black and scabrous almost instantly; they were packed so tightly that they lasted until April.

Livingston wasn’t a hotbed of crime, but a mall attracts all sorts of ne’er-do-wells, and the police chief made it his personal mission to cut down on the pilferage and nonsense. This led to him being run over by fleeing suspects’ cars in the mall parking lot on three separate occasions. (I’m not making that up. I know I make a lot of shit up, but not that. It was a town joke forever.)

In recent years, though, the mall has shifted its focus a bit further down the socioeconomic scale: there’s a Dollar Store, and nine places to buy baseball caps, and those kiosks staffed by pushy foreigners selling knock-off perfume and cell phone cases. Last I heard about the Livingston Mall, two youngsters had bumped into one another, leading to an argument. This led each to call his friends for backup, but–as said friends didn’t have cars–the gang members all got on buses to come to the mall to fight. The cops caught wind and put up a roadblock. (This also actually happened.)

Always something to do at the mall.

That would never happen at The Mall at Short Hills. Here’s the simplest, but most telling, comparison: the Livingston Mall had a Kay-Bee; The Mall at Short Hills has an F.A.O. Schwarz. It’s a different tone. Quieter and more refined, and also there are snipers on the roof picking off poor people before they get in the door. The Mall at Short Hills is very cold inside and has no smell, except for tightly defined radii around the cookie place and the perfumeries. Music does not boom; no one ever, ever runs. There is Van Cleef & Arpels, and Neiman Marcus and Gucci; John Mayer would like it there.

It’s so fancy that there’s no food court.

So if you were wondering why there was an art gallery in a mall: well, now you know.


  1. Ha! My dad grew up in Livingston and I went to the Livingston Mall (and the Morris Plains Mall, where I saw Return of the Jedi) many times with my cousins in the mid 80s. On special occasions we would go to the Short Hills Mall, which seemed very swank in comparison, and it is there that I encountered my first crusty Deadhead (and first white person dreadlocks) in like 1985. My mom bumped into a friend who’s son was about 5 years older than me and was decked out in full lot gear from head to toe and reeked of patchouli. When we were walking away my mom leaned in and said “did you smell that? that’s what pot smells like”.

  2. Luther Von Baconson

    October 25, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    that’s a fine bit of Mall prose. I was transported. Could go for a hot dog (mustard & relish) and a malted right now from Snoopy’s.

  3. Luther Von Baconson

    October 25, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    the Plaza. the concept brought to the shores of Lake Ontario by early Spanish explorers. 1963 or thereabouts.

    • Is that on Harwood?

      • Luther Von Baconson

        October 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        yep, the “old mall”. there was the SmokeShop which had a Rube Goldberg-type contraption/conveyor belt of Hot Nuts. Candy, fake vomit, fake dog turds, switch blade combs, 99 cent kites etc……plus an old coke cooler and an astonishing & informative selection of Men’s Magazines. Nelson’s Hobbies was a hangout during my phase of doing models every 6 mins. and of course The Becker’s.

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